Thursday, December 21, 2006

Spotlighting: Thr3e - The Movie

Ted Dekker's award winning novel, Thr3e, is about to hit theaters in select US cities.

Thr3e is a psychological thriller which pitches a psychopathic killer against a seminary student named Kevin. Kevin joins forces with a psychologist whose brother was murdered by the same madman and the two must solve the killers riddles before he strikes again.

If the movie is as exciting as the book, then hang on to your seats! This is one ride you won't want to miss. The book twists and turns right up to the last few pages. Thr3e the movie is bound to thrill even more.

Author Ted Dekker gives the following description of the movie:

This film is an exploration of Romans 7 in which Paul describes the struggle with sin we all face on a daily basis by stating, "The good that I would, that I do not, but the evil I would not, that I do." It struck me while setting this story up that there are 3 personalities in this sentence, the good, the evil and the 'I', that soul struggling between good and evil. Much like the age old picture of a person with an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, Thr3e seeks to show two primary truths.

1) That struggle is very real and 2) Man is powerless to win that struggle on his own.

Like all good stories, this one uses a paradigm familiar to contemporary audiences. A serial killer is hunting our protagonist who only has three days to flush him out before he himself is killed. But the truth of the matter is that he can only survive by facing the truth about himself by listening to that which is good over that which is evil.

This is a movie for the general market and seeks to enlighten the nature of the struggle we all face rather than providing instruction on how to convert to Christianity, so don't expect the four spiritual laws here. The point is to raise questions in a godless age, not line out doctrine.

Thr3e is rated PG-13 for suspense and thematic elements

To find out what theaters Thr3e is playing at near you, and for sneak peak footage, visit the official Web site:

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Author Spotlight: Brandt Dodson

Brandt Dodson has breathed new life into the classic Private Investigator formula with his Colton Parker Mystery series, and added a dash of hope.

In the first book of the series, Original Sin, Dodson introduces us to Colton Parker, a former FBI agent turned P.I. Colton’s life spiraled downhill six months previously when he lost his job at the FBI, his wife died, and his teenage daughter went to live with her grandparents. Now struggling to keep afloat financially, Colton’s first client arrives at his office. But this case is anything but straight forward. The client’s boyfriend is accused of murdering a local school guidance counselor, who also happens to be the aunt of the accused. Through illicit means, Colton soon discovers a missing computer and connections to an online pornography group in the dead woman’s apartment. Further investigation leads to Colton confronting members of an organized crime syndicate.

In book two, Seventy Times Seven, Colton is hired to find the missing wife of pottery entrepreneur Lester Cheek. What first appears to be a simple case of desertion soon develops into a complex investigation involving an international hit man. As Colton races to stop a murder for hire and save a marriage, he comes face to face with his past and must learn to reconcile his feelings of loss and abandonment.

Throughout the two books, Colton also struggles with his wife’s death and the resulting effects on his daughter, Callie. Colton must learn to balance work and essential time with a daughter who resents him and holds him responsible for her mother’s death. Can Colton connect with his daughter and seek her forgiveness before it’s too late?

Dodson has created a realistic cast of characters in his debut series. The reader is drawn to Colton and the issues he faces. Although a hard-nosed investigator, Colton has a vulnerability about him that leads to him helping the underdog, even at the risk of his own life. The only drawback in these two books is the stereotypical pastor who comes across as a little preachy.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful mystery with a touch of faith, forgiveness, and hope, then pick up a Colton Parker Mystery. You won’t be disappointed.
January 2007 sees the release of the third book in this series, The Root of All Evil.
Six Questions With: Brandt Dodson

What would be a typical day for you? If you have a job besides writing, how do you juggle your responsibilities?

I’m a practicing Podiatrist, with a subspecialty in peripheral nerve surgery, so my day typically begins in the office or hospital, between 7-8 am.
I usually arrive home around 5:30 -6, have dinner, spend time with my family (which is getting harder to do since the kids are growing up and have lost interest in dad), then begin writing around 9 pm. I’ll usually write until 11.
On weekends, I can usually get more time in at the keyboard. If I’m under deadline I write on my lunch hour - if I get one - and then all day on Saturday and Sunday.

How did you get started in writing?

This is a question that I’ve asked other writers and I find that their answer is very similar to mine. I got started in writing because a good teacher encouraged me.
When I was in grade school, I learned pretty quickly that I had no gift for singing, dancing, drawing, or painting. In fact, I remember my second grade art teacher holding up one of my paintings for all of the class to see. I was jazzed. I thought she was going to hold it out as a shinning example of what a young mind can do that is truly committed to the arts. Instead, she said, “this is an example of what we don’t want.” I was crushed.
On the other hand, my English teachers would always read my short stories as an example of “good writing.” In college, I got my final push from a creative writing instructor who said that I could go far, “if you put your mind to it and work hard.” His comment nurtured a growing love - and need - to write.

I’d like to be able to tell you that the sky opened up, and heavenly muses began to descend on me with divine inspiration. But it didn’t happen.
I wrote for twelve years, off and on, before I got my break with Harvest House.

What inspired you to write this series of books?

The old adage is, “write what you know.” The problem is that I don’t know much. So I went with the second adage that says, “write what you love.” And that’s what I did.
Dean Koontz once said, “You’ve got to write to entertain yourself. You’ve got to write what you can’t find in the bookstore.” I took his advice, and wrote to have fun. To let my mind wander and explore the things in fiction that I’ll never get the opportunity to explore in my real life.
I’m a fan of Chandler, Hammett, Parker, and Spillane. I wanted to see what I could do with my own character(s), and do it from a Christian perspective.

You were once employed by the FBI. How has this helped you with the Colton Parker series?

My experience with the FBI has given me an appreciation for a job that’s about as tough as they get. I served with many good men and women who would lay down their life for each other, and there aren’t too many places where that can be said about the employees who work there.
I wanted Colton to have a feeling for people that underlies his hard exterior. Although he’s cynical, tough, and weather-beaten, he still can’t walk away from someone who’s in trouble. He’s willing to sacrifice his own needs, wants and safety, to help a total stranger. But if you told him that, he’d be embarrassed, if not angry.
He sees himself as a “tough cookie,” but knows he isn’t. He cares, and sometimes that sense of caring can put him at risk.
That element of Colton is what I gained from my time with the employees of the FBI. In a way, they are hard. Tough. But underneath it all, they do what they do because they care.

What do you hope readers will take away with them after finishing this series?

Well, first, I hope they don’t finish the series. Plans are to produce a Colton Parker novel for as long as readers want them. But I do hope they come away from each novel with three things:

First, I hope they are entertained and come away with a desire to read more of the series.

Second, I hope they can personalize some of the issues that Colton wrestles with, as well as personalize the theme of the book. I want them to come away wondering just how they would’ve handled the same situation, then apply it to their own lives.

Third, I want resonance. I want the story to linger with them for years after they’ve read it. I want something from the novels to pop up in their heads at just the right time. And I want my work to drive them to the scriptures. If I can do all of that, then the novels will fulfill the challenge for which they were written.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from Brandt Dodson?

Novels that will entertain and that will raise questions in the reader. Then I want them to go back to God’s word for the answers to those questions.
There are more Colton Parker novels in the works, and there will be some police procedurals as well. I’m also hoping to issue some standalone suspense, along with novels that could be classified as “thrillers.”I love to write. I hope that God will provide me with that opportunity for as long as He sees fit.

Learn more about Brandt at

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Spotlighting: Together For Good by Melanie Dobson

As the vice president of Nulte PR, Abby Wagner has managed to bury her pain by immersing herself in work. However, her life soon begins to unravel when she is assigned a new public relations campaign for Heartsong Adoptions, the firm that had torn her family apart 20 years ago. Before long, she finds her job on the line as past anguish resurfaces.

When Abby’s daughter Jessica decides to spend the summer on Orcas Island, the childhood playground she had once enjoyed with her father, Abby finally returns to the family cottage she has avoided since the day her son had been stolen from her life.

While on the island, Abby reunites with her childhood friend Damian De Lucia, who runs a tour boat business on Puget Sound. Prompted by Damian’s concern about the dwindling number of orca’s returning to the Sound each year, Abby embarks on a PR campaign to help publicize their plight.

As Abby works through her past, she discovers the God really does work all things out for the good of those who love him.

Together for Good is a beautifully written story of God’s love and redemption for us all. In the midst of our pain, we often fail to see any good in the situation and are blinded to the overall picture God has painted regarding our lives. In her debut novel, Melanie Dobson has illustrated Romans 8:28 with tenderness and very real characters.

Set in the beautiful Puget Sound, Melanie successfully weaves two storylines into a well crafted novel which highlights both the pain and joy of adoption and the effects of pollution on wildlife.

Whether you have been touched by adoption or not, you don’t want to miss this novel with its heart-warming characters and beautiful scenery.

Five Questions With Melanie Dobson

As well as writing, you also run a publicity firm, Dobson Media. How do you juggle these two jobs with your role as wife and mom?

I took a hiatus from Dobson Media when I signed the contract for my second novel, though I still do a few publicity projects on the side. Until we had kids, I had no idea how challenging it would be to balance work with taking care of our home and spending quality time with my family. I seem to have no problem throwing things up into the air, but I don't always catch them when I should (I'm talking about housework here, not children...). I've been blessed with an amazing husband who is a true teammate when it comes to parenting, but our house usually looks like a tornado came through (actually two tornadoes--a two- and three-year-old named Kiki and Karly). Cooking is, well, something I did before we adopted our girls, and I no longer have time for those long, hot baths I used to love. I've learned to prioritize which often means stopping to watch a worm inch across the patio instead of working on my next chapter. I delve into writing the instant the girls are tucked into bed.

Together for Good is a poignant novel surrounding adoption. As a mother of two successfully adopted daughters, what was your inspiration behind this story?

We adopted our first daughter, Karly, three years ago. We were going through the process with some close friends who were adopting a boy, but before their birthmother relinquished her rights, she showed up at their front door and said she'd changed her mind and wanted her baby back. Our friends were devastated when they had to "return" the boy they'd come to love as their son, yet they clung to their faith in God through the whole process. Together for Good is the result of my own search to discover how God could use a heart wrenching situation like this for good.

You manage to bring Orcas Island to life in Together for Good. Have you lived there yourself, or did you have to do a lot of research for the setting?

I love Orcas Island! A few years ago, Jon surprised me by taking me there for my birthday, and we discovered a serene getaway where we could rest and hike and enjoy God's creation. For me, writing about the rugged terrain and peaceful waterways in the Puget Sound was the next best thing to living there.

What is the one thing you would like readers to discover when they read Together for Good?

Even when we don't understand what is happening, God has a plan for every man and woman who loves him.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from Melanie Dobson?

Novel #2 comes out next year. This one is called Going for Broke, and it's about a woman who is trapped in a gambling addiction. I'm currently working on my third novel as well which is tentatively titled The Black Cloister (May 2008). I'd initially wanted to write something fun for my next project since my first two novels drained me emotionally, but God placed a story in my heart about a woman who was born into an abusive religious cult. It's hardly the light book I'd been hoping to write, but the story has been pouring out me and I pray it will offer hope and healing to people who've been abused by "spiritual" leaders.

For more information about Melanie Dobson, check out her Web sites: and

Buy this book:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Review: VIOLETTE BETWEEN

VIOLETTE BETWEEN is a bitter sweet love story between two young widows searching for love a second time around. When tragedy strikes and Violette is trapped in a coma, she begins to relive the life she had with her first love, husband Saul.

As Christian sits and waits by her bedside, he also finds himself drawn back to the loss of his wife and begins to journal his thoughts.

On the precipice of death, Violette is faced with a choice. Can she let go of her desire to remain with Saul and risk loving again?

VIOLETTE BETWEEN is a beautiful character driven novel that will leave readers contemplating the wonder of eternal life.

Back cover copy:

Between here and the past, there lies a place . . .

A place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be.

A true artist, Violette is passionate and emotional. Climbing back into life after suffering a loss, she teeters on the precipice of a new relationship with Christian, a psychologist who not only understands her struggles but offers safety and his heart.

As Violette and Christian begin to feel something they both thought impossible, tragedy strikes again. Violette becomes trapped in a place of past memories—and she finds she may not want to come back. What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

About the Author:

Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spotlighting: The Best of Evil by Eric Wilson

“Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

Aramis Black had lived by the motto tattooed on his arms until the day an old friend stuck a gun to his temple. Within hours of his life being spared, Aramis fled to Nashville to start over.

Now living with his brother, Johnny Ray, and managing Black’s, a successful espresso shop, Aramis thought his past was behind him. But he couldn’t run from the memory of watching his mother’s murder, or the bitter resentment he held toward his father and uncle.

When the handkerchief his mother had given him the morning of her death reappears, Aramis finds his past suddenly colliding with his future. Within hours of the handkerchief’s reappearance, a man is shot dead in the espresso shop, his dying words hauntingly familiar: Spare your soul and turn your eyes from greed. The very words Aramis’s mother had spoken before her murder.

Helped by Johnny Ray’s gentle prodding, Aramis embarks on a journey to uncover a centuries-old mystery that could hold the key to unlocking the truth behind his mother’s death. Along the way, family secrets are revealed and Aramis must learn forgiveness and reconciliation.

THE BEST OF EVIL is Eric Wilson’s third novel and the first release of his new Aramis Black mystery series. Not only has Eric jumped from the suspense genre to mystery, but this is also his first novel in first person narrative. For readers who find first person narrative a bit restricting, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised as this story unfolds flawlessly through Aramis’s eyes.

Eric introduces us to a colorful cast of characters who are both unique and quirky, but also very real. There’s wannabe singer Johnny Ray with his penchant for Tabasco boxers, Samantha Rosewood with her Southern airs, Freddy C with his suspicious ways, Tina with her rhyming mutterings, not to mention reformed drug user Aramis, among others.

Set in Nashville and its surrounding area, Eric weaves in just enough description and history for readers to get a feel for the backdrop without overloading the story.

THE BEST OF EVIL will entertain and intrigue you as it draws you into the mystery surrounding American explorer Meriwether Lewis’s death and a rumored hidden treasure. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled; you just might uncover the location of Lewis’s lost gold.

A SHRED OF TRUTH, Book Two of the Aramis Black Mystery Series, releases in the summer of 2007.

Five Questions with Eric Wilson

You juggle a day job with family and writing. Can you describe a typical day in the life of Eric Wilson?

Until recently, I was under contractual deadlines. So, I helped get the kids off to school, then planted my backside in my desk chair and wrote until late at night, with a break here or there for coffee, kisses with my wife, and circulation through the legs. I listen to loud music to block out everything else, and I write and write and write. I finished the sequel to THE BEST OF EVIL this way. It's called A SHRED OF TRUTH, and it'll be out next summer. Of course, I also work a "real" job at FedEx Kinko's in Nashville. I like the job, but it's hard to balance that and my writing sometimes. My boss has been flexible, letting me work four ten-hour days to have two free days, that sort of thing. Right now, I've cut down to two days a week, so that I can finish some more proposals and sample chapters--anything to try to sell another idea before the end of the year.

Where did the idea for THE BEST OF EVIL originate from?

My editor actually called and asked if I'd be interested in doing a mystery series set in Tennessee. At first, I was hesitant. I didn't own the idea. Once the name Aramis Black came to me, though, it was my baby. I decided to saddle Aramis with some troubles from his past, including some troubles reaching back two hundred years--of which he is totally unaware, of course. The story unfolded from there, using Nashville and the city's history as a central character.

Your novels have all contained an element of history. Is history something you are naturally interested in and how do you go about researching your ideas?

Believe it or not, I despised history class in school. Two things brought history to life for me. One: travelling overseas after high school and seeing castles, old towns, ancient countries. Two: reading WWII spy novels in high school, which often included "what if" elements, playing with history in subtle ways. Jack Higgins, Len Deighton, Alistair MacLean--they were masters at it. When I decide upon a historical element, I research it online and in books, look for little-known facts, and then start playing with ideas. Truthfully, the element in THE BEST OF EVIL is very believable, if you read up on the subject.

Last year you visited Romania and later mentioned that it inspired an idea for a novel. Can you tell us a bit more about this idea?

I'm already working on the first in my Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy. The title: FIELD OF BLOOD. It's based on the Akeldama, mentioned in Scripture, the place where Judas Iscariot died after betraying Jesus. What if (there I go again, with the "what ifs") his blood seeped down into the tombs of that cemetery and infused the dead with his enmity for Christ? What if these undead were released in 1988 when an actual bulldozer accidentally broke into that two-thousand year old graveyard? Hmmm.

What can readers look forward to in the future from Eric Wilson?

That's a question for a publisher out there to answer. I have no contracts. No books under deadline. But I have lots of ideas, lots of excitement, and plenty of discipline. I hope to finish the Senses Series, as well as the Aramis Black Mysteries. Pray that God will open the right doors for my future in this career. By the end of the year, I'll be seriously reevaluating my direction.

For more information about Eric Wilson, check out his Web site:

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Spotlighting: Saint by Ted Dekker

How does one cope when their identity is stripped from them and everything they believed to be true turns out to be lies?

This is what Carl Strople is forced to face an hour after he awakens tied to a bed next to his wife.

Carl and his family have been kidnapped. To save his wife and son, he must cooperate with their captors and kill two people within the hour.

The instructions are simple:

Kill Joseph and Mary Fabin.

No head shots.

No one else is to die.

Return within sixty minutes or your family dies.

Armed with a gun loaded with only two cartridges and using skills he learned in the Special Forces, Carl races to the Andrassy Hotel where the targets are staying. Overpowering the two guards at the door was easy, killing the targets became complicated.

Carl finds the Fabin’s waiting for him. With a tape recording made by Carl’s wife Kelly as proof, the Fabin’s tell Carl that he is in fact a missing CIA agent by the name of Peter Marker. Kidnapped by an underground operation known as the X Group two years previously, Carl’s memories and identity have been stripped and then rebuilt over and over again in order to train him as an assassin.

Carl finds himself faced with two choices: Believe that the woman tied to the bed with him less than an hour earlier is his wife and that she will die along with his son if he doesn’t kill the Fabin’s, or believe the Fabin’s story that everything he has been told is a lie and his wife is waiting for him back home in America.

Things soon become even more complicated for Carl Strople, otherwise known as Saint.

Through torture and specialized drills, Carl has learned to shot with accuracy from 2000 feet out and has gained extraordinary emotional control. He has been trained for a specific mission, one that dangles by a thread when Carl comes face to face with the past the X Group tried to erase from his mind.

Ted Dekker has once again raised the bar in fiction. Comparable to any “24” television episode, SAINT is a tightly woven coil of twists that will keep readers glued to its pages long into the night. SAINT is Dekker at his best: intrigue, action, suspense, and romance.

Readers who enjoyed THR3E and BLINK will be pleased to find Dekker has returned to the psychological thriller genre. But be warned – all is not as it seems. SAINT is part of Project Showdown, so it stands to reason that the book switches to supernatural midway through. The only disappointment here for me was an element at the end of the story that didn’t seem to be foreshadowed earlier on in the book.

When asked about SAINT, Dekker likened it to the story of all of us born into the Kingdom. When the world tries to beat the Kingdom out of us, we can easily lose our first love and become confused about who we are and what we want to be.

Once more, Dekker has integrated an important message for all of us into a plot that will intrigue, inspire, and entertain until the very last page.

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Read a graphic novel excerpt of SAINT at:

If you like what you see, go to, enter the access code FGMYSPACE and you will get two more pages to read.

PLUS you will receive details on how you can get $10 off SAINT and an exclusive gift!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Spotlighting: By The Sword by Mike Yorkey and Rick Myatt

April 7, Jerusalem.

In the early hours of the morning, a group of armed terrorists enter an apartment complex on Zigzo Street. By the time they leave, seventy-four residents lay dead—15 of them under the age of six.

During her morning run, Amber Robbins, an international reporter for the Washington National, comes across the crime scene. Amber surveys the front of the building and one chilling factor stands out—the door jamb has been painted red. As the first Western reporter on the scene, Amber plunges headlong into an investigation which is quickly dubbed the Passover Massacre. It soon becomes apparent that this is not a normal Palestinian terrorist attack. In her bid to uncover the truth, Amber’s research finds her traveling from Jerusalem to Geneva, and finally Iran—where she discovers Christians are being put to death if they refuse to convert to Allah.

Mohammed Faheedi, an Iranian Intelligence Officer, also follows the Passover Massacre with interest. An Islamic splinter group called the Martyr’s Brigade is soon connected to the massacre. But why would a group who’s past attacks have been on Western held assets in the Middle East and Europe suddenly turn on Jerusalem? This question raises many doubts for Mohammed, who soon sets out on his own investigation.

Amber and Mohammed’s search for answers does not go unnoticed, and they soon find themselves running for their lives as they try to protect the innocent caught up in a religious battle.

By The Sword is a fast paced novel that accelerates the action even more with a page-turner ending. The only disappointment for me was an unconnected plot element in the middle which raised questions towards the end. If you fail to pick up on this, then it is a smooth read that won’t leave you disappointed—and eager for more. A nice little hook ending promises another book will be on the way.

Lessons Learned

I came away from this book with mixed feelings. Quite often we fail to see beyond our own backyards. Many of us live in a country where religious freedom is the norm and we have a right to choose who we worship. Persecution is minimal. Yet we get so caught up in the materialism of our lives and what we class as “hardship” that we don’t see what others have to face. We can walk down the street and openly display our faith in Jesus without the fear of death. We can walk into Christian churches freely knowing we won’t be massacred for our faith.

By The Sword was a reminder to me that I should rejoice in my freedom. I have been blessed to live in a country where I can worship God without a death threat hanging over my head. It also reminded me not to get so caught up in my own trials that I forget those who are less fortunate and are martyred for their beliefs.

Interview with Mike Yorkey

Provided by Glass Road Public Relations

How did the idea for this book spark?

My church pastor, Rick Myatt, and I began talking about writing a novel in the spring of 2000, based upon our mutual love for thrilling fiction. I wanted the lead character to be an investigative reporter who chases after a major, global-changing story. I had done some investigative reporting for a small-town newspaper when I started my journalism career, and I'll never forget how my job was on the line when I investigated the tax judgments and liens filed against the most powerful politician in the county. Fortunately, the story stuck, and voters recalled him eight months later in a special election.

Rick and I were also interested in the Middle East and how that part of the world would play out in these modern times. We began fashioning a plot, but we wanted to include many plot twists because that's what we liked when we read a thriller. We came up with a terrorist event to open the book that we called "The Passover Massacre," which took place in Jerusalem and involved the middle-of-the-night killing of 74 innocent Israelis. We placed our investigative reporter, Amber Robbins, at the scene of the crime, and then we worked on fashioning a plausible plot that involved Iran pulling the strings. Remember, this was more than a year before September 11.

Who handled the research? Plot line? The actual writing?

I handled the research and the actual writing, although Rick wrote bits and pieces of dialogue because he had a good ear for pious "religious" talk. Rick was great in talking out loud on the plot line . . . if we have this person do that, then we can do this . . . we really haven't had any readers predict what happens in By the Sword, which is great since the last thing we wanted to do was write a predictable novel.

How do you think 9/11 affected the way publishers and readers view your story?

September 11 was huge-and didn't help us at all. As the Twin Towers lay smoking in ruins, we were 75 percent done with By the Sword. Rick and I looked at each other and shivered. While our novel was not prophetic in terms of Osama bin Laden, it certainly seemed very plausible in light of the new global situation. We stuck with our view that Iran would play an increasingly larger role in Mid East events, and we've watched with amazement to see that happen, especially after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Getting back to 9/11, Rick and I hustled and finished our novel by December 2001. When our agent sent it out, the response was . . . underwhelming. In fact, no one wanted to touch a novel with a major terrorist act, and publishers were wary of how much interest Americans had regarding the turbulent Middle East.

We got rejected by every CBA publisher doing fiction. Some acquisition editors were forthright in their reasons behind the rejections, and we listened to them. One pointed out how the manuscript was not ready for prime time because of its writing quality. I took those criticisms to heart. I studied books on writing fiction. I rewrote scene after scene. I combined characters and simplified a few plot threads. I avoided any narration and stuck to action. I eliminated flashbacks. I tightened up the prose and reworked the dialogue. I reworked plot details based upon the Iraq war and new global realities. I paid two fiction editors to give the manuscript a hard edit. After more than two years of rewriting, I felt the novel was ready to be resubmitted in 2004, and I found a few publishers more welcoming. I was a happy fellow when Broadman & Holman greenlighted the novel-with our original title-in the fall of 2004.

Writers often find that their books mirror real life in ways they never anticipated. Have you seen this happen with By the Sword?

Very much so. Rick and I are blown away with the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and how he's moving the country toward nuclear weapons. He's also denied the Holocaust and wants to wipe Israel off the map. Lots of saber rattling. In By the Sword, we have Iran purchasing a nuke submarine from the Russians, intent on international havoc. Keep in mind that we originally wrote this more than five years ago. Scary.

How has writing fiction differed from non-fiction? Which do you find harder to write?

Fiction is definitely more difficult and more pleasing to write. Readers can tell when amateurs are writing fiction. I'm sure the manuscript we finished in 2001 was pretty amateurish. But we learned from our mistakes and have written a pleasing, professional book that is entirely plausible while still keeping readers turning pages. In other words, I had a ball writing a book that I would want to read.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Spotlighting: Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin

Of the 25 books I recently read for the 2006 Christy Awards, Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin stood out from the rest for me. This southern coming home novel is filled with compelling characters, bittersweet moments, and a lesson for all of us.

At the age of six, Tucker Mason’s secluded life at Waverly Hall becomes a little more bearable. His father, Rex Mason, arrives one night with a boy in tow and offers eight words of introduction. “This is Matthew . . . Mason. Apparently, he’s my son.” The two boys are left in the care of Miss Ella Rain, a local woman hired by Rex to keep them out of sight.

As adults, Tucker and Mutt (Matthew) now struggle with the memories of a childhood at the hands of a father who didn’t want them and memories of “Mama” Ella’s death.

Tucker returns home from a photo shoot late at night to find a woman and child stranded on the side of the road. He offers them shelter for the night and puts them up in Miss Ella’s house, only to discover the woman is Katie, a childhood friend now running from an abusive husband.

When Mutt escapes from the mental hospital, Tucker is faced with the decision to place Mutt in a more secure facility. Against medical advice, Tucker chooses instead to take Mutt back to Waverly Hall.

Can their former childhood home help ease the voices in Mutt’s head, and can Miss Ella’s soft promptings help Tucker reconcile his past and place a hope for a future in his heart?

Wrapped in Rain had me laughing out loud one minute, and crying the next. Charles Martin has a gift for bringing his characters to life and placing them firmly in the reader’s heart. My heart broke many times for Mutt. His antics were both funny and poignant, and helped me understand the mind of someone battling a mental illness. From Miss Ella, I learned that strength resides in the meek. This woman of faith was strong under adversity, and her legacy to the boys was one of soft spoken words to guide them and endless hours on her knees in prayer. And then there was little Jase, the son of Tucker’s old girlfriend, Katie. His sweet innocence was both refreshing and heartwarming.

If you only read one book this year, read Wrapped in Rain. Let it soothe your heart and bring you before the Throne Room.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Spotlighting: Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth

Mara Weatherall was happy in Little Pine. Her heart was filled with Nanny Lynn, who loved on her and taught her the simple things in life. Mara didn’t wonder too much on who her parents were, or where they were.

But when Nanny Lynn dies and Aunt Elma sells the family farm, nine-year-old Mara finds herself in a new town, Burl, Texas. With a new town come new friends, and new experiences.

As the hot summer days drag on, Aunt Elma wearies of Mara’s constant questions and shoos her outside. Mara searches for a friend to fill her days and soon meets an older boy who goes by the name of General. In the brambles of Central Park, General teaches Mara things no nine-year-old should know amid threats to her life, and those closest to her, should she tell.

As Mara struggles with her secret, she meets Camilla, an eleven-year-old with secrets of her own. The two girls form a friendship that survives the trial of separation when Aunt Elma suddenly dies and Mara finds herself in a strange mansion on the other side of town—where the criminals live.

A whole new world awaits Mara as she learns that the elderly man who owns the mansion could unlock the secrets to her parentage. She is embraced by the housekeeper, Zady, and introduced to a new school and church where Mara’s is the only white face.

A new life stretches out before her, but is it one that can protect her from General?

Watching the Tree Limbs, Mary DeMuth’s debut novel, captivated me from start to finish. Through poignant storytelling, DeMuth strips away the convention of shying away from the evils of this world, which is found in many of today’s Christian novels. Its topics may be a little controversial for some conservative Christians, but an underlying message of hope, laced with grace and healing, is woven throughout the pages to ultimately uplift the reader.

With delicacy, DeMuth highlights the heartache of childhood rape, ensuring that Mara’s story will remain with readers long after they close the book. The story will minister to those who have faced childhood abuse, and provide a fresh understanding of the issue for those who haven’t been touched by this pain.

Watching the Tree Limbs is the novel not to be missed. Open its pages and let the healing balm of Mara’s story touch your soul.

Five Questions with Mary DeMuth

Watching the Tree Limbs is written with a tender understanding of childhood rape. How did this story come to you, and what compelled you to tell it?

I saw this girl. She stood outside in the hot Texas sun. A bully approached her. That picture started the novel. I wanted to tell Mara’s story because there are far too many Maras in the world, me being one of them. As a survivor of childhood rape, I have struggled through many things and yet God has done some amazing healing. He has redeemed me. I wanted to give other victims hope that God sees and He can heal. I wanted to help those who haven’t been violated in this way an accurate picture of the soul damage sexual abuse can do. And, above all, I wanted to write a page-turning story that stuck with the reader long after he/she put it down.

What do you hope readers will take away with them after finishing this book?

A deeper desire to follow Jesus fiercely. A longing to be healed and set free.

You did a wonderful job of weaving redemption into the story. Do you have any advice for other authors who struggle with this?

Redemption should be part of the fabric of the story, not a bauble or decoration added slipshod at the end. It must come through the plot, through the characters. Above all, try not to preach. Show redemption, don’t tell it.

You’ve published both fiction and non-fiction books. Which do you find the easiest to write and do you find one more satisfying than the other?

It’s easier for me to write fiction, and it is more satisfying. However, I’m thrilled to see the reach of non-fiction.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from Mary DeMuth?

Wishing on Dandelions, Mara’s second book, releases with NavPress September 2006. I have a book tentatively titled Postmodern Parenting coming out Summer 2007 with Harvest House. I’m currently working on 3 fiction proposals.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spotlighting: House by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker

Kill or be killed.

It was hardly the advice Jack and Stephanie Singleton were looking for to save their marriage. A road trip to a counselling session in Montgomery, Alabama goes drastically wrong and finds them lost in the backwoods. As night sets in, the “Wayside Inn” seems a godsend to the weary couple.

The Singletons’ enter the genteel Inn, hoping to find help for their desperate situation. Instead they meet Randy Messarue and Lesley Taylor, who are also road trip causalities.

With no host in sight, the couples follow the instruction note attached to the front door and sign themselves in. As the foursome contemplate the dining table lavishly set for four, the lights flicker and die, leaving the guests in the dark. When the lights mysteriously come back on, the Inn’s hosts also appear; Betty, Stewart, and Pete.

It soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary Inn.

Welcome to White’s house.

Barsidious White has three simple rules for his house:

1) God came to my house and I killed him.

2) I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.

3) Give me one dead body and I might let rule two slide.

Jack, Stephanie, Randy, and Lesley are soon caught up in a cruel game in a house that seems to know their every move.

Constructive Comments

This is not your average haunted house story. When you combine the minds of two of the masters in the supernatural thriller genre, you expect something beyond typical. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker deliver an edge-of-your-seat plot encapsulating a theme that will leave you reflecting on its ramifications for a long time after.

Peretti and Dekker refuse to whitewash the true nature of evil or their villains. In HOUSE, Barsidious White is the embodiment of evil. As far as White is concerned, the guilty must die, and everyone is guilty. In White’s house, evil is pitched against evil.

HOUSE sets out to epitomise the human heart. Nothing we do can clean our hearts of the evil that resides within. So if the wages of sin is death, and we have all sinned, then why should we be allowed to live? This is the question Peretti and Dekker tackle in this enthralling novel that touches the very heart of its readers.

As a reader more familiar with Dekker’s past work than Peretti’s, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this collaboration. The writing is flawless. The seamless continuity of this novel is testament to the two creative minds behind it and their commitment to a quality story.

Dekker fans will not be disappointed. HOUSE is tied into his current Project Showdown series by expanding on one of the characters from SHOWDOWN. Readers concerned about the violence depicted in SHOWDOWN shouldn’t have a problem with HOUSE. The violence is still there, it’s no less evil, but I found it more toned down.

Peretti and Dekker invite you to enter HOUSE, where losing your life could be the only way to win.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

A mini interview with Ted Dekker

Amalgamating two enormously creative minds to write one novel couldn’t be easy. How did you and Mr. Peretti deal with differences in vision while writing HOUSE?

Ultimately we divided the novel into two parts and each wrote one of those parts. Up to a certain point the writing is all his and after that point it's all mine. We advised each other, naturally, but did not step on the other's toes. What we have is a chocolate/vanilla story. Part is chocolate and part is vanilla, not necessary a blend of flavors but two flavors the compliment each other.

You’ve mentioned that co-authoring reminded you of the old adage “iron sharpens iron.” Were there any skills that you feel you sharpened due to this collaboration?


It’s been said that a lot of your novels deal with the same theme of sacrificial love. What draws you to write about this theme more often than others?

I have been a bit stuck on the theme for a string of novels, but that changes with SAINT. I suppose one of those who likes to drill down to the bottom to see what we have, and most of what we have deep down is some variation of sacrificial love. Is there a better theme than that theme which ultimately determines our fate? I've said many times that I write to explore, certainly not to preach. God's love for me is irresistible territory.

Some readers were offended by your depiction of evil in SHOWDOWN. Why do you choose to show evil in its ugliest form?

I don't show evil in its ugliest form, not even close. But I refuse to be complicit with evil by characterizing it in a way that hides its true color. The notion that writers of faith should dull the cutting edge of evil in their stories is very nearly heretical. Certainly offensive to the hero who defeated the evil villains we seek to characterize. David didn't defeat a dwarf in a pink leotard; he killed a terrible giant that had the armies of Israel shaking in their boots. If I read about Goliath and feel no fear of him, I see no great victory in David's feat. How dare we undermine the true nature of that horrible villain called evil, which our hero defeated on the cross.

You have a gift for crafting stories that portray the true nature of the human heart in a way that impacts your readers. Are there experiences in your life that you draw on?

A writer can only write out of their own experience of the world, both observed and felt. I haven't experienced what many of my characters have experienced, no. But their experiences are extrapolated from my own.

You use the house as a reflection of the human heart. The most striking portrayal of this for me was when Susan spoke. Why do you think it is so hard for some people to hear the truth?

For the same reason people in Jesus' time had a hard time hearing the truth he spoke. Their hearts are fixed. It seems to be a condition that is as prevalent among those who call themselves Christians as among those who do not :-)

What do readers have to look forward to in the near future from Ted Dekker?

Ahhhhh.... The future. After House comes Saint, the best novel I've yet written I think. I love Saint. Very much like Thr3e, yet with a Showdown twist as it is influenced by what happened there, though in no way dependant on a reading of Showdown or House. I am now working on a novel called Town, a story about the beautiful side of evil. It could be seen as a sequel to House because it is connected to Showdown like House is. Nevertheless, very different from either.

Then comes Siren and Sinner. I've written neither. Then on to four other novels I have banging around my head.

Thr3e the Movie is in post production now. House will be shot later this year. The next movie I'd like to tackle if we can line up the right studio is the Trilogy; Black, Red, White. These are my best selling and most talked about books, bar none, and I think they would once again immortalize the story of our own redemptive history.

Visit this link to view the HOUSE media player:

Available April 2006
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Friday, January 13, 2006

Spotlighting: Showdown by Ted Dekker

Paradise: a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight

Evil is about to visit Paradise, Colorado.

When Marsuvees Black arrived in Paradise offering the residents Grace and Hope, no one expected what was about to happen to their small community. No one except Johnny Drake.

Johnny had witnessed Black’s arrival in town, with his black trench coat flapping in the breeze, black steel-toed cowboy boots kicking up the dust, and black hat down over his eyes. Very much the modern day Zorro. But Zorro wouldn’t have done what happened next. And nobody was about to heed Johnny’s warning.

Marsuvees Black was, after all, a man sent from God.

As thick thunder clouds gather overhead and sandstorms whip the town, it soon becomes apparent that something in Paradise is amiss.

High in the mountain canyons near Paradise is a hidden monastery, home to Project Showdown. Secluded from the rest of the world, David Abraham sequesters thirty-seven orphans and their thirteen teachers in the monastery to test a controversial theory: an examination of faith and human nature.

David always knew that one day the students would test the boundaries. But when Billy, one of the orphans, challenges the monk’s teachings, doubts arise as to whether the children are ready to taste the evil that is about to enfold the monastery and Paradise.


Ted Dekker raises the bar with SHOWDOWN, an exploration of the effects of evil upon innocence. In true Dekker style, we are pulled into a novel that isn’t as it first appears.

Trying to guess the ending of a Dekker book is near impossible. SHOWDOWN is no exception. With a fast paced plot, multiple twists, and surprises at every turn, predicting when you will next put this book down is difficult enough.

Dekker shakes things up with this novel. It’s edgier than his previous work, even graphic in places. But then, evil is graphic. In a recent post on his forum, Ted writes: ‘I also refuse to characterize evil in ways that are untruthful about its true nature.’ In SHOWDOWN, Ted represents the depravity that lies in the heart of all humans effectively. Some may find this extreme in its means, but that just adds to the power of the message contained in this book.


SHOWDOWN explores the consequences of free will. We are all born with evil in our hearts, but it is up to us as to whether we will give in to that evil and explore its ways.

Can pure faith really move mountains? That is the question David Abraham set out to answer in the hidden monastery. To have the innocent faith of a child is the treasure we must all strive for.

Once again, Ted Dekker has presented a moral dilemma which leads me to examine my faith and explore the purity of my heart.

1 Corinthians 13:2 ‘…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.’

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Spotlighting: A Distant Music by B.J. Hoff

Ever since the publication of her novella, THE PENNY WHISTLE, readers have asked B.J. for more of the story. With A DISTANT MUSIC, B.J. delivers the first installment, and it’s a novel that will tug at your heart and fill you with hope.
Skingle Creek in the late 1800’s is a small coal mining community whose inhabitants have little of the ‘extras’ in life. But it is also a community where people genuinely care for one another and are willing to sacrifice what little they have to help those in need.

It comes as little surprise then when Maggie MacAuley turns to those around her in a desperate attempt to save their schoolteacher, Jonathan Stuart. Ever since Mr. Stuart’s flute has gone missing, he has grown sicker and weaker by the day. With the help of her classmates, Maggie hatches a plan to bring music back into their teacher’s life, and hopefully renew his strength. But will the desperate plight of Widow Hunnicutt and the Crawford family put an end to Maggie’s plan?

It seems to Maggie that God has lost interest in the good people around her. Not only is her teacher fading away, but her best friend, the ailing Summer Rankin, is also waning by the day, spending more time in bed than at school. Then there is the matter of Kenny Tallman and the class bullies. In Kenny’s attempt to save Maggie from a beating, Kenny puts up with the abuse from the bullies and swears Maggie to secrecy. But just how long will his heroism continue to protect her?

Maggie struggles to understand how God can know about everything and care about it all when those around her struggle with ill health, hunger, and bullies. How can a loving God let bad things happen to good people?

Constructive Comments

Picking up a B.J. Hoff novel guarantees that you will be transported into another time filled with captivating characters. Book #1 of the new Mountain Song Legacy series, A DISTANT MUSIC, is no exception.

B.J. Hoff’s gift of bringing characters to life shines in A DISTANT MUSIC. I found myself drawn into Maggie MacAuley’s troubles and shed more than a tear or two with her.

A DISTANT MUSIC is an enchanting read that touches the heart. Once more B.J. proves that when it comes to the historical voice, she is the master. B.J. tells us that this is the just the beginning, with more to come. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the rest of the Mountain Song Legacy.

Lessons Learned

Like Maggie, I often struggle to understand why bad things happen to good people. I find reflecting on Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 always helps at these times. Although we may not know why certain things happen, God has it all planned out and offers us hope if we would only place our trust in Him.

A DISTANT MUSIC is a reminder of that hope we have in Christ and His sovereign plan.

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